PHOENIX, Arizona, March 14. THE first full day of competition at the NCSA junior nationals brought us two new national age group records on the women's side and a dominant 200 backstroke by Jack Conger. Simone Manuel and Lia Neal battled in the 100 free final, with Manuel getting the win in 47.73 and a national record in the 15-16 age group to boot. Dagny Knutson used to have the record with a 47.80.
Kylie Stewart was out fast in the 200 back final and held on to break Elizabeth Pelton's national record 1:50.72 in the 15-16 age group with a 1:50.66.
Jack Conger made the 200 backstroke events the highlight of the day in Orlando, winning the men's race with a 1:40.05. It's two seconds off his lifetime best but still an amazing performance, as he won by four seconds.
Conger will be the top seed in tonight's 200 freestyle, and Manuel will try to back up her 100 free win with a 200 free victory tonight. Though Manuel was able to get Knutson's age group record in the 100 free, the 200 looks to be a little tougher. The 1:42.81 Knutson swam in 2008 is the current national high school record. But you'll be able to watch Manuel and everyone else go for individual and relay victories tonight via our live stream of the meet on swimmingworld.com, starting at 6 p.m. Eastern. And if you miss any of the races, they will all be available on swimmingworld.tv as on-demand video.
Three Speedo sectional meets are taking place this week across the country. The western zone sectionals in Federal Way, Washington, has its first full day of racing today and will feature Missy Franklin swimming some of her usual events, and a couple of different ones, including the 500 free. Franklin swam that race at the Colorado high school championships last month and will probably be happy that this time, she gets to swim it at sea level. Over in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, her Olympic teammates Ryan Lochte and Conor Dwyer will swim at the sectional meet there, starting tomorrow morning. Cesar Cielo is scheduled to race there, his first competition since the Olympics and his first since changing coaches after leaving the professional swim team he founded in Brazil.